We are moving into the next phase of reopening. As with earlier changes, there are new guidelines and adjustments that we all will need to make in order to safely continue this reopening process. As we move forward, we have decided to continue meeting outdoors and move indoors if the weather requires it. Please read all the information below so that you know all the guidelines.
We have again put much time and prayer into working through the requirements from the state and finding the best way to safely implement those requirements. We recognize the continued onerous nature of these requirements and that many of them are uncomfortable, so we have done our best to implement the requirements with the least inconvenience that we could. We also know that we have been dealing with these changes and adjustments for a significant time with no clear end in site. But while we may find these things difficult, they pose no difficulty for our Lord. They do not hinder his plans.
So let us have confidence in the plan of our sovereign God during this time. We can joyfully endure the difficult requirements in order to safely worship our magnificent savior together. We continue to ask that you extend patience, love, and grace to us and to your brothers and sisters in Christ as we meet in person. Thank you for your careful attention to these guidelines and for your cooperation.
Many of us have enjoyed meeting outdoors over the last few weeks. It has worked well and allowed us to meet in person while keeping the requirements as manageable as possible. The biggest disadvantage of meeting outdoors is the uncertainty the weather brings. Last minute changes on account of rain are unpleasant and a frustration for everyone. In order to provide stability and consistency, we have looked into meeting indoors. We have determined that while it is possible for us to meet indoors, the guidelines if we do so are more stringent and uncomfortable.
In light of that and given the increasing spread of the virus in the U.S., we will proceed with the following hybrid approach: We’ll continue to meet outdoors as long as the weather permits. If the weather does not permit, we will meet indoors that week. This will allow us to keep the time, location, and content the same. This will remove any uncertainty about service. Please read on to review the below details on services, both indoor and outdoor.
Before getting into the specifics of outdoor vs. indoor services, remember these general guidelines. Regardless of the type of service, there are still many things that we used to do that we cannot do at this time. We will not be able to enter as we will nor will we be able to choose our seating location. Kids cannot run freely, but must remain with their parents at their seats. We must continue to refrain from handshakes and hugs. We cannot congregate in small groups to converse or fellowship as we are used. Whether service is outdoors or indoors, there are many inconveniences in meeting. But we are willing to be inconvenienced for the potential benefit of others as we seek to be faithful to the call of scripture to assemble together.
Please continue to think carefully about attending services during this time. Remember that attending in spite of your conscience or judgement is not a demonstration of faith. We understand that the requirements are difficult. If any of the requirements would be too difficult for you or your family, please remain home. If you or a member of your family is in one of the higher risk demographics (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#Higher-Risk), please remain home and do not attend. If you have are not feeling well, have any flu-like symptoms, or have recently been in contact with someone known to be positive for COVID-19, please remain home and do not attend.
As we continue to meet week after week under these requirements, it can be tempting to begin to give them inadequate attention or ignore them. We must not do that. These guidelines have been established by our state government. Scripture calls us to submit to these authorities, who have been instituted by God (Romans 13:1-2).
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:1-2, 1 Timothy 2:1-3a)
We therefore diligently and joyfully abide by the guidelines set before us out of respect and in obedience to our Lord. We do not grow weary of doing good, but we persevere through trying circumstances. (2 Thessalonians 3:13, Galatians 6:9)
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior (1 Timothy 2:1-3a ESV)
We do not attend to these requirements only out of obligation. Instead, recognizing the wisdom in them and that their purpose is the protection of ourselves and those around us, we gladly take on the inconvenience for the benefit of the body of Christ and of our community. (Philippians 2:2-3, Romans 12:10, 1 Corinthians 10:24, Galatians 5:13-14, 1 Timothy 2:1-3a)
Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:2-3 ESV)
We also recognize that our response to these requirements is a witness of our Lord. Therefore, let our conduct be a worthy example to the community around us. We desire to be above reproach and should be known by the love that we have for one another. (Matthew 5:6, 1 Peter 3:15, Philippians 2:15)
That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15 ESV)
Whether service is indoor or outdoor, many of the guidelines remain the same. We will be meeting at 9:15am every week for the foreseeable future so that our meeting time is consistent no matter which type of service we hold. We will continue to provide an online registration method so that we know who and how many will be attending.
Please continue to park in front of the building and to maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet as you either enter the building or head to your seat outdoors. Someone will be on hand to direct you when you arrive.
We ask that you make every effort to avoid using the restrooms at church, but the first floor restrooms will be open during service if needed. When we meet indoors, we ask that you continue to use the restrooms on the first floor as the cleaning requirements would be a distraction during service. Restrooms will be limited to one person at a time and someone will be on hand to disinfect the restroom after each use.
We will not be offering childcare, either nursery or children’s church. Please evaluate how your children will handle this situation as you make your decision about attending. Remember that we are not concerned with kids interrupting service. We would rather you attend and have interruption then have you stay home if interruptions are your concern. The nursery room will be available for nursing moms only. If your children are used to having the coloring sheet during service, please bring the necessary materials, as we are unable to provide crayons, clipboard, or coloring sheet.
We will partake in communion as we have been. Guidelines prevent us from offering communal food or drink, so each person should bring their own bread and drink. Remember that we are unable to share communion materials.
We will not be placing the tithes box in an accessible location during this phase and ask that you continue to use the online giving functionality or mail a check to the church.
We will continue to broadcast the sermon via Facebook and upload the sermon audio as soon as we can.
We will continue our outdoor services much as we have been. We will setup on the side of the building facing the building. We will continue to have folding chairs placed in the parking lot as seating location placeholders. Please bring your own chairs, if you have them, as we do not have enough folding chairs for everyone. Each family can choose one of the folding chair locations as their seating location, ensuring that everyone maintains the needed physical distance. We recognize that this means that everyone is sitting in the sun and we know that this can be uncomfortable. Please bring sunscreen, hats, and/or umbrellas if desired.
The state highly recommends face masks for outdoor events.
If the weather does not permit meeting outdoors, we will meet indoors at the same time. Because we will be meeting at the same time, regardless, we will make the decision about indoors/outdoors very close to the start of service. So, please come prepared for either eventuality. Meeting indoors will involve more guidelines than outdoor meetings.
Because we have to keep families physically distanced, we have a more limited number of seats than typical. We have about 45 seats. Because of the limited seating, we need everyone to register online. We will send the registration link via Facebook each week or you can always find it at https://reformingtruth.churchcenter.com under events. The doors will open at 9:00am and someone will direct you on where to sit. After service ends, each family will be dismissed, as we are unable to remain indoors to fellowship.
According to the guidelines from the state, when meeting indoors, face masks should be worn. Please bring a face mask each week in case we do need to meet indoors. Let us know if you need a face mask. If you have circumstances that prevent you from wearing a face mask, please let us know so that we can determine if any accommodations can be made.
We will have hand sanitizer on hand for your use.
Thank you for reviewing all of these guideline and for your cooperation in keeping them. Remember that these inconveniences will ultimately prove temporary and that they pale in comparison to the hardships the church has had to weather in the past or in other areas of the world. We remain excited about worshipping together. In summary, we’re meeting at 9:15 every week, indoors or outdoors depending on weather. Come prepared for either. We believe we have found the best way to meet while following the guidelines with the least inconvenience we could. As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to us.